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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  January 16, 2014 10:00am-11:01am PST

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christie tries to get back to governing. but when christie met with homeowners still recovering from sandy, in trenton, the new investigatory committee is meeting to decide who to subpoena first. if the shoe fits, as the political world waits for clinton to make a move, "time's" new cover asks, can anyone stop hillary? and reporting for duty, my interview with former defense secretary robert gates. on the president's team of rivals, the only american soldier still a prisoner of war from the afghan conflict and the fallout over hillary's handling of benghazi. >> but it seems to me that the critical questions are what was offered to the ambassador, what did he reject? what did he ask for, and was it turned down and if so, who turned it down and what time line. and did the question ever get to hillary or was the decision made
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by the undersecretary or the deputy secretary or somebody else. >> good day, i'm andrea mitchell in washington. it's back to normal i guess for chris christie with a big twist though. governor christie resumed his public schedule this morning but bridgegate isn't going away. right now the new jersey assembly is holding a special session focused on the september lane closures. and we could be hearing more about those subpoenas in this hour. joining me now for our daily fix, chris cillizza, nbc senior political editor mark murray, associated press white house correspondent julie pace and on the phone kelley o'donnell in new jersey joining us as well. kelly, first to you, what did chris christie do today with the
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homeowners and what are we expected to hear from the special committee? >> well, in man hawken, it was a day for chris christie to re assure people that his focus is fixed on getting job done they need to recover from sandy and work at hand. while he never directly mentioned bridge scandal, he alluded to it several times saying that his focus would be on the work at hand, that he would not be distracted. he acknowledged there were more cameras in the room then there would be for a sandy event, as he called it. he was definitely speaking to more than one audience, local mayors and officials and local residents who have been terribly affected by the devastation of the storm and a larger political message. he said he is going to serve for eight years with that focus and mentioned at the end of the oath he takes for office, the last words are to help me god.
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i've been thinking a lot about that lately. he alluded to the crises that surrounded his administration and tried to project the air of being on the job and focused on that. politically people will decide how he's doing with that. i spoke to some residents who said they felt he was focused on their need, very supportive of him in this community. andrea. >> that's the community that would be the strongest for him. mark murray though, we have new nbc news maris polling. and he's holding up pretty well. >> there are some questions that show he's actually doing just fine just one week into this scandal, 69% say it hasn't impacted their opinion of chris christie, plurlty says they believe he's saying the truth here and pluralties say he's a strong leader instead of a bully. when you look at the surface, there are troubling signs. in this poll his favorable/unfavorable number is upsidedown. when we look back to all of the other polls we've seen on chris
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christie since he stepped on the national stage, he's always been in the positive territory. andrea, a lot of people are paying attention, 71% are paying a lot or some attention and how this goes on will have a really big impact on his perception and going forward to 2016. >> chris cillizza, he's going next to florida, testing the waters with big donors. what are we seeing there? there was one comment from a wealthy donor in the midwest saying about the expected sunday event. he's got a big problem because perception is everything. perception is reality. i'm sure he's an honorable decent guy but i'm wondering how in the hell did he let this happen? who did he hire? what kind of idiot. how stupid. that's the money people talking about what kind of management test is this for chris christie. >> and remember, andrea, if you're going through sort of who is chris christie's base within
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the republican party, the strongest argument for chris christie is that he's a guy who can raise the money. he's a guy who among the wall street types and business types, many of whom are with mitt romney in 2012 or some with rick perry, that he's their guy. chris christie is not a base movement conservative candidate. the social conservative base and tea party base aren't going to rally behind chris christie. in a way he needs the donor, major donor base to rally behind him because that's his base, ken language langone, doing an event in florida where he'll be campaigning for rick scott. i think it's important christie and his people maybe leak out occasionally when donors are doing things and huddling with donors because that's in some ways where his top tier status is based. part of it is in his resume and what he's done in new jersey. that's come under fire. the other big part, he's a guy who can raise the sorts of money
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and do the things that organizationally you'll need if, for example, hillary clinton is the democratic nominee. he needs that piece to remain strong. >> and as well he's got one other problem to face, among the problems, jay rockefeller, the chair of the senate commerce committee saying today that he's disturbed by the evidence showing that the port authority's professional and engineering staff raised serious concerns about the lane closure plan. they explained that the closures would cause significant c congestion and delays, it's unconscionable that anyone would block commercial traffic and block commercial on the interstate system in this way. >> absolutely. this is one of the biggest concerns for christie and his team. he took two hours from the press to try to took this to rest. you see him trying to get back
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to regular business. if you have investigations and also at the senate, this is going to be a drip, drip, drip and make it harder for him to do the two things he needs to do. one, to be the governor of new jersey and carry on with that business, but two, to be getting out in the country and meeting with donors as chris said but traveling around to states and talking to voters as head of the rga. >> and while we've got you there on pt white house lawn, julie, what are you hearing about the president's big speech at 11:00 tomorrow morning, responding to all of the controversy post edward snowden and how he is going to either reign in the nsa, change surveillance or bring in privacy advocates or additional layers or not? >> well, what it actually sounds like the president will be more focused on is building pub hick trust and confidence in the surveillance programs and less of actually reigning in or curbing these programs. so you're going to hear him talk about things like putting a public advocate on the fisa court which would give the
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judges another opinion to hear before making their decision. increasing oversight on the process that the government uses when they decide on what foreign leaders to spy on. what i don't think you'll hear a lot of is real restranlts on the nsa. that's what privacy groups are most worried about and what the intel community has been pushing for. >> julie pace, kelley o'donnell and mark murray, thank you very much. meanwhile, the senate intelligence committee on benghazi is causing a stir, giving republicans a new reason to shine a spotlight on what was a low point for hillary clinton at the state department with big implications for 2016. new jersey senator jean shaheene joins me from capitol hill. thank you very much. i know you're a strong supporter of hillary clinton's and new hampshire is where it all starts, other than those caucuses in iowa that new hampshire ans don't take notice
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of. what is the impact of benghazi? don't we have to take serious the republican criticism that there were plenty of warnings, that secretary clinton and the people under her did not respond to this request for more security and that there was a management failure at the state department? >> well, i think this report reinforced what we've heard from the accountability review board that reported back about a year ago that made a number of recommendations and showed that there was a breakdown in communication, in security. that people needed to be held accountable. i think the state department is working through those recommendations trying to address that. we need to address security at our embassies, particularly in places that are very high risk. and at its core, this was a real human tragedy. we lost four americans who were working hard for us overseas and we need to make sure that the
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people who killed them are brought to justice. that's very important. and we need to continue that effort. and we need to go forward and address the recommendations that have been made and make sure that this does not happen again. >> how much of a problem is this going to be for her if she chooses to run? >> you know, i think we're going to see her continue to address this issue as she needs to. but i think most americans are focused on what we need to do in the future. what the next president needs to do to keep this economy moving, to put people back to work, to ensure that we continue to have a place in the world where we're listened to in the international community. i think that's what americans are going to be concerned about. >> where do you think she stands now. there's been the criticism of benghazi and mixed verdict from the bob gates book. where does she stand against joe
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biden and others according to the polls, she's the prohibitive favorite. do you assume she's going to be running? >> i don't think we know that yet. clearly there are a lot of people working on her behalf would would like her to run. i hope she's going to consider it seriously. but one of the things i've learned over the years, each campaign is different. and the only conventional wisdom i have about what's going to happen in 2016 is that it's going to be different from 2012 and 2008 and all of the campaigning that came before it. so i think we have to wait and see what happens. >> you've got your own race coming up and you and the other senators in the democratic caucus got a chance to have cocktails with the president last night. this was obviously his attempt to reach out. how we assuring was he about the outlook for the midterm elections, which is clearly top of mind? >> you know, it was really an important opportunity for us to talk to the president and raise
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questions with him about what his administration is currently working on, to see how we can work together to address the challenges facing this country. i think number one on that list is still the economic challenge that we're facing and how do we address the fact that we have too many people who are still out of work. i think we need to extend that unemployment insurance program to help those folks. we have too many long term unemployed and we need to invest in education and job training and look at investing in our roads and bridges eninfrastructure that will put people back to work. i think those are the challenges that we're really thinking about in the senate. >> did he hear a lot of complaints about the flawed rollout of obamacare, the affordable health program? >> i think he's heard those before last night but we did talk about what we need to do moving forward to address the affordable care act.
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you know, there are still obviously things that need to happen to make it work for millions of americans who are going to sign up under the health care law. i think there are a couple of important things to remember, however, and first is, i believe that all americans should have access to health care that's affordable and that has provides them good quality. that's what the affordable care act was put in place to do and i think it's important that it's there. what we've heard recently is that if we repeal the affordable care act, it would at over a trillion dollars to the deficit in this country. what we've got to do is make sure it works for people and we've got to fix it. we shouldn't repeal it. that's what i'm trying to do. >> senator jeanne shaheen, thanks for being us. now captive for five years has new hope after u.s. intelligence received a recently taken video of the sergeant.
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these images seen here after he disappeared from his base in afghanistan in 2009. the new pictures apparently show a frail berg daul making reference to the recent death of nelson mandela. it does prove he is recently alive. i asked robert gates about his personal connection to the men and women in service, including sergeant bergdahl. >> about the troops, you're passionate about the troops and the suffering of the men and women in the field. how do you feel -- what can you say about sergeant bergdahl? there's been a proof of life video and the family is encouraged. what about someone who has held captive for so long by the ha canny network. >> he is the only m.i.a., if you
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will, from the afghan war. and i think it's fair to say that the command erps in afghanistan never let up the effort to try to find him. and still applied intelligence resources and assets to try to find him. frankly, i'm pleased that the taliban have kept him alive. we've always thought it was for some trading purpose or something, but it's not entirely clear what the situation is. but i think we all obviously hope that he does find his way home. >> and stay with us here for more about my interview today with former defense secretary robert gates. we also expect live remarks from secretary john kerry about syria coming up. [ male announcer ] marie callender's knows all white meat chicken was made to be blanketed in golden breadcrumbs. with whipped mashed potatoes, topped with a thick homemade gravy. so she makes her country fried chicken to be eaten together.
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you praise hillary clinton, she was obviously a partner of yours and both of you felt con strained and resentment of some of the interference by the national security team from the white house. but looking at the benghazi experience, which happened, of course, after you left, and the harsh criticism of her role in not better managing the state department and not responding to repeated request for the field for better security, and then ambassador stevens twice rejecting suggestions from general hamm that the general provide more security for benghazi. many republicans certainly are saying and critics of hillary clinton are saying, that this really is disqualifying for someone who wants to be commander in chief if she chooses to run. >> it seems to me, that the critical questions are what was offered to the ambassador?
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what did he reject? what did he ask for? and was it turned down and if so, who turned it down and in what time line? and did the question ever get to hillary or was the decision made by the undersecretary or the deputy secretary or somebody else. >> on issues of security, you were the boss. shouldn't the issue have gotten to the secretary of state as issues would get to the secretary of defense? >> i think it depends on how much urgency there was in the request from the ambassador, whether it was couched in terms that said, this is something we're going to have to address at this point, or he said, i need people here now and i just don't know the answer to that question. >> that, of course is former secretary of defense robert gates. and in a wide reaching interview, the intelligence committee report is a devastating indictment for ignoring hundreds of threat warnings leading up to the
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attacks that killed four americans, including ambassador chris stevens and. bottom line, they said the tragedy could have been prevented. joining me now is "washington post" diplomatic correspondent ann gearen. the state department has not disciplined anyone who was involved and some of these are veteran career people. what is your takeaway as how how culpable the state department and other agencies are after reading all of these reports? >> this report in particular spreading the blame father than the state department but the state department takes the brunt of their criticism and is the recipient of most of the recommendations, 14 findings in this report generally support the narrative that is pretty well known now as far as what actually happened that night and early the next morning.
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and the degree of confusion and problems and figuring out afterward what had happened. and it really does, however, come down hard on the state department in particular for not so much ignoring warnings of rising violence and instability in benghazi as sort of a failure to communicate with the intelligence community, located only a mile away. and to sort of have a plan of what they were going to do as this -- as the situation worsened. the report says there were trip wires in place at least on paper. certain things that the department should have done and didn't in the crucial weeks and couple months leading up to the attack. >> now, the report does say there had been warning that militias and terrorists and affiliated groups have the
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capability and intent to strike u.s. and western facilities and personnel in libya that were ignore the. that included the british ambassador and others who had cleared out for that precise reason. and that the cia annex beefed up its security that the diplomatic mission had not. but hillary clinton is not criticized personally except by the republicans in their dissenting part of the report, they go after her very, very roughly. and today on the floor as well, on the senate floor. and dianne feinstein, the chair has now issued a statement saying that is unfair, in the part of the report that is bipartisan it does not go after hillary clinton personally. >> that's the -- that's the crux of your question to bob gates, is the person at the top automatically culpable and buck stops here and so forth? as he said, it really depends on
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the nature of those requests and who denied them. and there he's talking specifically about those requests from stevens back to headquarters in washington saying, hey, you know, i do need this and that. but when offered directly by the senior pentagon official in charge of that region, do you want an extension of this separate security force, now, mind you, that was in tripoli, not benghazi, he said, no i don't. in fact, hamm went back to him and he still said no, i don't want it. so i think the real question of whether hillary clinton is to blame falls on is that the sort of thing that should have come to her attention, should she should have been asking more questions about, hey, we've got some really bad stuff going on here in eastern libya, is chris
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stevens going to be okay? >> and there is question as to why he went to benghazi and how given all of the warnings how smart that mission was. i think a lot of it was personal, that he had been in ben zbaz zi for a year and thought he could rely on the locals contrary to the intelligence that show they had strong corrections with al qaeda, at least al qaeda influenced groups. >> this report goes farther than others in gently laying some of the blame on chris stevens himself, that he wanted to operate with a lighter security footprint as they say and he did want to rely on locals. he didn't want to walk into every meeting with what six guys with guns. he thought that was the wrong way to operate. and that was probably behind some of the decisions he made about going there at all and not taking much security with him when he did.
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>> ann gearan, thanks, always good to see you. >> thank you. >> it's being called the largest cheating scandal in air force history, 34 nuclear missile officers have been pulled from their post, stripped of their security clearance at the 341st missile wing in montana. they are accused of texting answers to each other on a monthly proficiency scam administered last summer testing the knowledge of missile launch system. the air force is retesting all of the officers. is this the bacon and cheese diet? this is the creamy chicken corn chowder. i mean, look at it. so indulgent. did i tell you i am on the... [ both ] chicken pot pie diet! me too! [ male announcer ] so indulgent, you'll never believe they're light. 100-calorie progresso light soups.
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i took medicine but i still have symptoms. [ sneeze ] [ male announcer ] truth is not all flu products treat all your symptoms. what? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus severe cold and flu speeds relief to these eight symptoms. [ breath of relief ] thanks. [ male announcer ] you're welcome. ready? go. tomorrow president obama will be delivering his long awaited decisions about how far to reign in the nsa after the revelations by edward snowden. today i asked former defense sent robert gates if the nsa has gone too far. >> do you think we've gone too far with the nsa with surveillance and lost the support of the american people
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for a lot of things that might really be militarily necessary but are no longer sustainable? >> i think the reality is that what nsa does is of such complexity that most of the people looking at it don't understand it. i'm reassured by a couple of things. first of all, house and senate oversight committee one led by a liberal democrat and other by conservative republican, acknowledge there's been no wrong doing found. they acknowledge that no program has been identified on which they weren't briefed. the question is whether in the application of the capabilities nsa went wrong what the president or congress thought they were approving. i think that's what the reviews are looking at and probably what the president is going to talk about on his speech on this subject. clearly it has to be brought back within the guidelines that the political leadership of the country approved. and if there are people who knowingly went beyond what they
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were supposed to be doing, then they should be held accountable. >> in some respect, has snowden done a service? >> it's very difficult for me to give snowden any credit whatsoever. as far as i'm concerned, the guy is a traitor and done serious damage to our country and i think that proof in the -- proof of that particular pudding is that instead of standing and facing the music as earlier folks like daniel elz burg and others did, he fled to the protection of that notorious protector of privacy, civil liberties and human rights, vladimir putin. >> we'll have more from my sit-down with former secretary of defense bob gates and new book "duty" tomorrow here on "andrea mitchell reports." you'll know he is wearing a collar because he broke his neck on a fall on new year's day. so chiolympics are 21 days
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away. tracy barnes is giving up her spot on the u.s. biathlon team to hur identical twin and training partner. lancaster tracy performed well and earned a spot only to give it up to make way for lanny. this morning, she told matt lauer she was shocked by her sister's sacrifice. >> usually i always know what tracy is thinking and she shocked me. i didn't see this coming. and i was like, tracy, there is no way this is your spot. you earned this. and she was very adamant about me going and she said, no i want you to go. and it was very emotional moment for both of us. female announcer: get beautyrest, posturepedic,
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a political force for the left and lightning rod for the right. she has a big decision to make. until she makes it the buzz surrounding her future plans will only continue to grow. nancy gibbs, the managing editor, can anyone stop hillary looks at unlimited options. nancy, great to see you. i want to ask you about the cover. tell me something about this specific cover your choice in showing the heel, is that a male figure sort of hanging on to her heel or being stepped on by her? >> we could have done any number of men or women who might be trying to catch up to her and slow her down. but what we looked at in the story is how hard it will be in for any democrat looking to block her path to the nomination to stop her because of really unique advantages that she brings. and in a way she's a force that we have not seen before in how
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much bigger and more powerful she is in terms of being able to raise money and build a network. her name recognition, the attention that she can command, whatever is he says or does, it is unique in our history really. we wanted to capture the challenge that poses to anyone who might also have their eye on the white house, whether it's an ambitious senator like amy klobuchar or duval patrick. >> it's the other male candidates grabbing at that heel or is she stepping on them? >> i don't think she's stepping on them. i think what's remarkable about her is that she has the luxury of not having to engage, to really walk her own road and do what suits her interests now and not pay attention or have to be laying the groundwork that other
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candidates would have to because of the advantages that she brings. >> and in fact, in one of the cut lines in the piece in david's piece is her life s as a private citizen has been virtually indistinguishable as her life as a candidate. so everything she is doing now helps, added towards a future campaign. she doesn't have to clearly announce or make the decision. she's better off postponing it -- >> i thnk she can postpone it almost longer than anyone we have seen. it allows her to not have to answer every controversy that comes up. the latest being the benghazi report today and continue raising money and building her network and giving speeches, all of the things she would be doing if she announced a candidacy, she can do as much as that as she wants anyway without the down sides that come with being officially declared. she can prolong that i would say well into 2014, really longer than anyone else who has to
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establish their team, their consultants and fundraisers and donors. she has all of that ready to go and can acty vat it when she's ready. >> there's the book tour to come. the book that was originally scheduled for june, there's that release and the book tour and all of the publicity attendant to that. there's also a downside in being so far out front and perceived as inevitable. remember what happened in 2008? >> it's true, you can say our cover line, can someone stop hillary? the most obvious answer is yes, hillary could stop hillary, by deciding she doesn't want this or making the kind of mistake or having the kind of revelation where she trips herself up. you could argue -- we've been witnessing with chris christie that the moment if he is his own worst enemy when it comes to his own ambitions, obviously hillary could say something or do something that would end up weakening her position.
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but the point we're making is seldom before have we seen someone who's position is so strong and yet who is still saying she has decided whether to run. if she does decide, it isn't as if she would be doing anything different than what she's doing now but she has a luxury, you know, politics isn't fair. she gets to play by different rules by virtue of the asset she brings to this. if you're any of the other democrats looking at 2016, you -- all of them, i'm not surprised we're hearing that their intention by and large is to support her. and until something happens that if she were no longer be in their path. >> do you think there's any downside also in revelations such as in the book, that was just excerpted about the hit list, how hillary clinton back in the day had a list of those who supported her, senators who did and didn't, members of
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congress and cabinet members and people that would get payback and not get favors because of the way they treated her in 2008? >> i guess i would be surprised if anyone is surprised that she or any other political figure keeps track of who helps and who hurts and who's loyal in the hard times and who walks away. i'm not sure there's anything particularly unusual. there's something very nixon yan about keeping an enemy's list. i'm wondering how many elected figures any of us could find who do not in the front or back of their minds remember who does them favors and who doesn't. that seems the very nature of politics. i'm not sure that -- of the things that her opponents will hold against her, i'm not sure how high that would rank on the list. nancy gibbs, thanks very much for being with us. >> thanks, andrea. and it's academy award nomination day today "gravity" and "american hustle" led the
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pack. christian bale and amy adams and bradley cooper all nominated in each of the four acting categories. "12 years a slave" received nine nominations including best acting nods for the two breakout stars. there could be a budding rivalry in the best lead actor category, both dicaprio and matthew mcconaughey won global globes for their work and "dallas buyers club" and both vying for the oscar now in march. [ male announcer ] this is joe woods' first day of work. and his new boss told him two things -- cook what you love, and save your money. joe doesn't know it yet, but he'll work his way up from busser to waiter to chef before opening a restaurant specializing in fish and game from the great northwest. he'll start investing early, he'll find some good people to help guide him, and he'll set money aside from his first day of work to his last, which isn't rocket science. it's just common sense.
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yep...doh. [ boy ] slurpably fun and a good source of calcium. dads who get it, get go-gurt. the water valves in cincinnati will reopen this afternoon after officials -- west virginians whose tap water was tainted by the chemical spill. the agency exposed the risk to
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our nation's waterways ann thompson joins me now after your week on the road. you have been up and down the ohio and seen really the suffering of the people in west virginia. it was profoundly affecting to see interviews you did with people trying to cope for days and days without water, no water to bathe thi children in and no water for drinking and cooking. >> what's so remarkable about this story, andrea, is how little we know about the chemicals that are in our own neighborhoods. when you just think about what happened in charleston, west virginia, this chemical was a mile and a half up river from the water supply company. the water supply company had no idea that chemical was there and had no way to test for that chemical once it got in the water supply and had no idea of what impact that chemical called
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mchm would have on people. and i was talking to the cdc this afternoon, the cdc doesn't know what kind of long-term impact this chemical will have on people. the short-term impact is up for debate because there are so few studies done o it. most of the studies done have been animal studies and as a result, as the cdc says as it gets more information, it is changing its advisories. last night it issued an advisory to pregnant women in the charleston west virginia area not to drink the tap water until all mchm is out of the system. the problem with that, it came 48 hours after people were told to turn on their taps. and so i called the cdc today, what's going on? why did it take 48 hours to come out with this advisory? and they said, it's because as we get more information, we will put it out to the people. the other think quite frankly because we have so little
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information, we're doing everything in an abundance of caution to make sure nobody gets sick. i can tell you it's now thursday and they started turning on the taps on monday and people in charleston are still complaining about odor. they are still complaining about disclorgs. and people are still having reactions to the water when they bathe or they shower in it. >> and ann, do you think west virginia is unique? i mean are other states better at this or is this a situation that we see across the country? >> honestly, andrea, i can't answer that because i don't know enough about what other states are doing. what i think is unique about west virginia is in this situation, this was a chemical that was kept above ground and because of that, there were no inspections that were required of that site. now, inspectors did go to the site a couple of times between 1991 when it was purchased by the company that is now known as freedom industries and the actual spill because there were complaints about the odor, th
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licorice smell is very strong. no information. i can tell you the people in charleston, west virginia, andrea, really feel forgotten about by their federal government, they are crazed about the cdc and feel forgotten about by the state government because nobody seems to know what's going on. and the frightening thing is people look at me and say what's going to happen in 20 years? we don't know. nobody has an answer for them. >> ann thompson, i want to say, i want to compliment you on your fashion choices today. >> ladies in red. >> matchy match. thanks, ann. good to see you. >> and we have just learned sadly one soldier assigned to the 160th special operations aviation regiment was killed and two others injured while training at hunter arm my air field in georgia. it is based at fort campbell,
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and we have breaking news right now. secretary kerry at the podium at the state department talking about next week's conference on syria. >> in the morning when we have our friends from mexico here, and i'll take a couple of extra questions to make up for not being able to answer some here now. i know that many of you have
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been asking about some of the recrer recent revisionism as to why the national community will be gathering next week. so let me make it clear here today. from the very moment that we announced the goal of holding the geneva conference on syria, we also agreed that the purpose was specifically and solely to implement the 2012 geneva one communique. that purpose, that sole purpose could not have been more clear at the time this was announced and it could not be more clear today. it has been reiterated in international statement after international statement that the parties have signed up to. and venue after venue, in resolution after resolution, including most recently in paris last weekend when both the london 11 and the russian
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federation reaffirmed their commitment to that objective. the implementation of geneva one. so for anyone seeking to rewrite this history or to muddy the waters, let me state one more time what geneva two is about. it is about establishing a process essential to the formation of a transition government body, governing body with full executive powers established by mutual consent. that process, it is the only way to bring about an end to the civil war that has triggered one of the planet's most severe humanitarian disasters, and which has created the seeding grounds for extremism. the syrian people need to be able to determine the future of their country. their voice must be heard.
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and any names put forward for leadership of syria's transition must, according to the terms of geneva one, and every one of the reiterations of that being the heart and soul of geneva two, those names must be agreed to by both the opposition and the regime. that is the very definition of mutual consent. this means that any figure that is deemed unacceptable by either side, whether president assad or a member of the opposition, cannot be a part of the future. the united states, the united nations, russia, and all the countries attending, know what this conference is about. after all, that was the basis of the u.n. invitation sent individually to each country, a restatement of the purpose of implementing geneva one.
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and attendants by both sides and the parties can come only with their acceptance of the goals of the conference. and we too are deeply concerned about the rise of extremism. the world needs no reminder that syria has become the magnet for jihadists and extremists. it is the strongest magnet for terror of any place today. so it defies logic to imagine that those whose brutality created this magnet, how they could ever lead syria away from extremism and towards a better future is beyond any kind of logic or common sense. and so on the eve of the syrian opposition coalition general assembly meeting tomorrow to decide whether to participate in geneva in the peace conference, the united states, for these reasons, urges a positive vote. we do so knowing that the geneva peace conference is not the end,
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but rather the beginning. the launch of a process, the process that is the best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the syrian people and the revolution. and the political solution to this terrible conflict that has taken many, many, many too many lives. we will continue to push in the meantime for vital access for humanitarian assistance. i talked yesterday with russian federation foreign minister lavrov in an effort to push still harder for access to some areas where the regime played games with the convoys, taking them around a circuitous route, instead of directly in the way that the opposition had arranged for and was willing to protect them in. it is important that there be no games played with this process. we will also continue to fight for cease fires where we could achieve them and we will
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continue to fight for the exchange or release of captive journalists and aid workers in order to try to improve the climate for negotiations. now, obviously, none of this will be easy. ending a war and stopping a slaughter never is easy. we believe, though, this is the only road that can lead to the place where the civilized world has joined together in an effort to lead the parties to a better outcome. and to the syrian people, let me reiterate, the united states and the international community will continue to provide help and support as we did yesterday in kuwait. where we pledged $380 million of additional assistance in order to try to relieve the pain and suffering of the refugees. we will continue to stand with the people of syria, at large, all the people, in an effort to
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provide them with the dignity and the new syria which they are fighting for. thank you. and as i said, i'll be happy to answer questions tomorrow. thanks. >> next week's conference in syria. anne guerin is with me now. the syrian opposition has yet to agree to go to that conference. >> you heard kerry get around to it there, 2/3 of the way in. this was a plea from him to the moderate u.s. backed opposition, please show up at our party. this is something that would be hugely, hugely embarrassing. it would be a big problem not only for the united states, but for other nations sponsoring this and backing the moderates. if the people who by u.s. lights should benefit from it see the
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conference as a potential setback and refuse to show up. >> thank you so much, anne guerin from "the washington post," the chief diplomatic correspondent. i'm andrea mitchell. we'll have more tomorrow and throughout the day. and my colleague tamron hall picks it up with "news nation" right now. >> hi, everyone. i am tamron hall. we will soon learn which former and possibly current members of governor chris christie's administration will be getting subpoenas in connection with the so-called bridge scandal. ten to 20 people will likely be called. they are the first round of subpoenas from the special committee invest gaiting this entire incident.


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